The Delhi High Court directed the Centre on Monday to release all the Tata Sky set-top boxes (STBs), barring five pieces, which were seized by the government for not displaying the maximum retail price (MRP). A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambani, in an interim order, directed the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to release the over six lakh STBs it had seized in January but allowed it to keep five of those for continuing with its probe. Issuing the direction, the bench said the government's decision was "prima facie arbitrary" and resulted not only in a financial loss to the direct broadcast satellite television provider, but also affected consumers who could not shift to the new STBs.
"Here, the arbitrariness is writ large on the face of it," the bench added. It said the proceedings initiated by the government might go on in accordance with law and the company would participate in it.
With the directions, the bench listed the matter for further hearing on July 27. The interim order came on Tata Sky's plea challenging the seizure of its STBs for not displaying the MRP.
The company, in its petition, has also challenged the constitutional validity of a rule, which makes it mandatory to display the MRP on STBs. Besides seeking setting aside of the January 17 seizure report, Tata Sky has also requested that Rule 4 of the Legal Metrology Rules, which makes declaring the MRP on STBs mandatory, be quashed.
It has also sought quashing of an August 9, 2018 circular by which the rule was made applicable to STBs. The company has contended that it is not required to declare the MRP on STBs as those fall under the definition of "industrial-consumer" according to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011.
It has also said that since the STBs are not for sale, there is no need to indicate the MRP on those.